Ex Co-op Bank boss Richardson defiant as he quits board roles

FORMER Co-op bank chief executive Neville Richardson has stepped down from two non-executive board roles following scrutiny into a £1.5bn hole in the bank’s finances.

Mr Richardson, pictured, has left the boards of M&S Bank and the estate agent Countrywide.

He ran the Britannia Building Society until it merged with Co-op in 2009 and he took the top job at the enlarged group.

Bad debts at Britannia have been blamed for hobbling the Co-op’s banking arm – causing the failure of a deal to buy more than 600 Lloyds branches, a downgrade to junk status by a credit ratings agency, and this week’s bail out. The rescue package prompted a further downgrade by ratings agency Moody’s yesterday.

In a statement he said: “Following the ill-informed and inaccurate commentary in the media concerning myself and my departure from the Co-operative Bank and the acquisition of Britannia Building Society by the Co-operative Group, this was the right thing to do.

“I will co–operate fully with any official enquiry there may be into the transaction between Britannia and the Co–operative Group, or the circumstances of my departure from the Co–operative Bank.”

It follows comments by Conservative MP Brooks Newmark, a member of the Treasury Select Committee, who said an institution would be “mad” to appoint Mr Richardson and said he was “culpable” for the problems at the Co-op.

Mr Richardson received a £4.6m pay-off following his departure from the group in 2011. The Wilmslow resident is on the board of Bolton construction group Seddon and sits on the board of governors at the University of Manchester. In October it noted that he had replaced Peel director Robert Hough on the finance committee.